An in depth study probes the reality of what consumers want from ethical brands
A new study by Leo Burnett has found that Australian consumers are more likely to believe a brand is “doing good” based on how it treats people and its financial integrity – ahead of the environment and societal good.
It comes as the Leo Burnett 2022 Good Study* also found that nearly half of Australians (47%) believe the economic situation in the country will be worse off next year as we head into a global downturn. Mirroring this, 30% of Australians believe the financial situation of their household will be worse off during that period.
Leo Burnett Australia’s chief strategy officer, Catherine King says: “Brand good can mean different things to different cohorts, however the good that resonates most across all demographics, geographies and political leanings are financially related and reflect a collective concern around equity and inequality, cost of living and the economy.
“Although the majority of corporate ESG initiatives focus on environmental or societal causes, the Good Study has uncovered a strong case for brands to focus on doing financial good in the world, expanding our notions of ‘good’ and demonstrating a want for greater transparency and accountability when it comes to business practices and brand acts.”
The top three acts of financial good that resonate with Australian consumers are: paying employees and suppliers fairly; having a zero tolerance for corruption; and paying the appropriate taxes.
What matters most to consumers:
- 82% of Australians believe a brand is good if it treats people fairly and respectfully
- 78% judge the goodness of a brand according to its financial integrity
- This is ahead of environmental good (76%); and societal good (75%)
Driving commercial returns:
- 88% say that a brand doing good would encourage them to purchase that brand
- 70% of consumers would pay more for a brand doing good compared to another brand of equal quality that doesn’t do so – positioning brand good as a positive differentiator
- 61% of Australians try their best to avoid brands that don’t do good
When it comes to barriers stopping people from supporting causes they care about:
- 38% say the reason is because it’s more expensive
- 41% say it’s because they’re trying to minimise their purchases overall
Overall – consumers expect more from brands:
- Most Australians (88%) believe it’s important for brands to do some form of good in the world
- Reflecting this, the majority of Australians (84%) claim to be “good consumers”
- Around two thirds (61%) believe that doing good means more to society now compared to five years ago
- Around half (49%) say it’s more important to them compared to pre-Covid-19
“There is a growing momentum around brands ‘doing good’ in society, but when we dig deeper, we don’t know very much about how brands can be or do good. The idea of doing good is talked about more than its practical application. The objective of our study is to help brands better understand how they can meaningfully do good, and how to find and build specific audiences to fuel even more positive actions,” King said.
Actions for brands – financial causes:
The ways in which a brand can connect with people around financial integrity presents an opportunity for corporate Australia. According to the Good Study these are:
- Paying employees and suppliers fairly (83%)
- Having a zero-tolerance approach to corruption (79%)
- Paying appropriate taxes in Australia (75%)
- Ensuring that no one was exploited in the making of a product (74%)
Actions for brands – people causes:
For brands to resonate with consumers when it comes to people causes, demonstrating values around giving someone a “fair go” is still a strong motivator:
- Creating fairness and equity for all (71%)
- Working to lift people’s mental and physical health (69%)
- Enabling diversity, equity and inclusion (60%)
Actions for brands – social causes:
Three ways that brands can do societal good:
- Providing education and learning facilities for all (60%)
- Supporting causes that work to end poverty (56%)
- Investing in the local community (54%)
Actions for brands – environmental causes:
When it comes to such a big and complex issue, smaller actionable and achievable initiatives by brands resonate the most with consumers:
- Re-using, repairing and recycling (71%)
- Reducing the use of plastics (70%)
- Cleaning oceans and waterways (64%)
“Doing good is an act of positive populism that can bridge geographic, demographic and even political divides. Brand acts of good can influence the customer journey when it comes to creating demand, preference and NPS. From its inception, Leo Burnett has always believed that ‘what helps people, helps business’, and the Good Study shows this has never been more relevant to consumers today,” King said.
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